Two-Sentence Stories

Schweine HUnD by Paulina. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The 4yo and I play a game where we tell silly, two-sentence stories that verge on the surreal. It started when I was tired of telling stories and the kids wanted just “one more.” An example might be, “Once upon a time, there was a car that had feet instead of wheels. The end.”

As the 4yo and I traded stories back and forth at bedtime, she said, “Once upon a time, there was a dog that was longer than usual…The end.” We both burst out laughing because the story was so unfunny. There was nothing bizarre or surreal about it.

Missing Mom

It’s been sixteen months since my mom died. The changing seasons seem to bring a renewed sadness as those markers of change go by unremarked by my mom. There is no scent of cinnamon baking in her kitchen. No comment on the colors. Not normally a football fan, she always enjoyed it when Northwestern would beat a Big 10 powerhouse. Her canned tomatoes have not been put up for the year. Talk of the cool weather is not forthcoming. She doesn’t drive out Grand Traverse Penisula and park her car at the point where one can see both bays. She’s a story. A memory. A feeling.

Last of Mom’s Canned Goods

Green tomato relish, tomato sauce, bread and butter pickles.

Last night I cleaned out the cupboards and found the last three jars of canned goods my mom gave me. If we eat them, then they’re gone, then another piece of Mom is somehow gone. There will be no more care packages or dusty jars set aside for an overdue visit home. But why save them? My mom loved to share food with people. She loved to feed people. She understood how people come together both in the making and eating of food.

For now, they sit on the shelf, a reminder, and an inspiration. Perhaps my family and I can take over the tradition and put up cans of tomatoes, relish, and preserves.

 

Hungry Pete

Last night’s story for the almost 4yo was about a crocodile named Hungry Pete who would eat anything in the river. A refrigerator floated down with a delicious, rotten treat inside of it. Hungry Pete wanted to eat, eat, eat. He hit the fridge with his tail. No luck. He pushed a fallen tree onto it. No luck. He guided it toward a waterfall where it burst open. Hungry Pete rushed to the fridge and started eating the rotten food inside, but then the fridge clamped it’s doors shut on the crocodile. It sprouted arms and legs. It ate Hungry Pete right up. Then it got out of the river and walked away. The 4yo approved of the story and went to bed.

Yesterday, I thought, “fifty-one weeks ago, my mom was alive.” It was such a sad thought. This reminder, this new mark on which I measure the world. How long since Mom died. Or, how much older or younger than when Mom died, when I see the deaths of people in the news. Like, oh, Tom Petty died ten years earlier than Mom. Or, that Oliver Sacks got six years more than Mom. What would Mom have seen if she’d lived six more years? She’d see both her granddaughters walk. S— at nine-years-old, and N— at six-and-a-half-years-old. Mom would’ve seen them both move from infants to toddlers to kids. She could have had conversations with them and they with her. Instead, S— has a sprinkling of memories of Mom. She has questions about death. Meanwhile N— has no memories of her Grandma. N— will have a few not great pictures of my mom holding her.

The metaphor I’ve settled on lately is phantom limbs. There is a ghostly aspect where I know my mom is gone, yet it feels like she isn’t or shouldn’t be, like I should be able to pick up the phone and call and Mom will answer in Michigan. She’ll listen to me. Offer words of advice. Her voice a connection that grounds me.

 

Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata‘s Convenience Store Woman is a novella with such minimal plotting it almost reads like a character-study. The narrator is a thirty-five-year-old, single woman who works part-time at a convenience store in Japan. Keiko Furukura does not fit into Japanese society and may have trouble existing in other cultures as she has trouble deciphering mores.…

via Incels and Interior Narrative in Convenience Store Woman — Scrivler

S— patted N—’s belly while we all laid in bed and called it a “cute little bundle belly.” N giggled and kicked her legs around, then turned and kissed S— with a big “muh” noise.